Reviving our Coop Blog and Annual Meeting 2017 Minutes

Hello Oklavores!

Greetings, and welcome to our newly revived Oklahoma Food Cooperative Blog!  It’s been far too long since we’ve posted much of anything here, and it is one of our goals for 2017 to return to posting more frequently.  Over the next several months, we hope to share profiles and updates from our many Oklahoma farmers, recipes and frugal cooking ideas for using your Oklahoma food, and news and stories from the wider local food/sustainability community around our great state!

We would love for this blog to become and interactive way for us to communicate more effectively with our membership — from those who have been with us for many years to the new members who just joined this morning.  There really are so many amazing things going on around Oklahoma, and we are hopeful that we can bring a sampling of them to you through this blog.  With that said, if you have a topic that you would like to see us address in these “pages”, we would love to hear it!  Send any potential ideas or suggestions to contact@oklahomafood.coop.  We know that there are many ins and outs to getting healthy, sustainable Oklahoma food from the field to your plate, and we would like to cover it all here!

 

However, the first item on the agenda for our newly revived blog is to bring you a recap of our 2017 Annual Meeting, which was held at Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Church in Oklahoma City on January 28th.  First of all, thanks to all of the producers and members who were in attendance.  It was a wonderful afternoon with much fellowship, and of course Oklahoma Food!  A HUGE ‘thank you’ to all of the producer members who came to sample the bounty from their farms…..all of which is available each month through our monthly delivery system!

For those who were unable to attend the meeting, the minutes from the meeting are included below (Thanks to our Secretary Sarah Totten for compiling!).  Also included below are the slides from the powerpoint presentations — a yearly report given by General Manager Adam Price, and an overview of the idea for a weekly delivery system (currently in the planning phases) by Treasurer Courtenay Olivarez.

Thanks again to all of you for your continued support of our Cooperative, and of our Oklahoma farmers and producers!  We have a lot in store for you for the remainder of 2017, and we are grateful that you are here with us on this journey.

 

Oklahoma Food Coop Annual Meeting Minutes (January 28, 2017)

Socializing and visiting producer tables 10:00am-12:00pm

Business meeting opened at 12:00pm

 

Raffle of 1-$100 and 2-$50 gift certificates to Coop, goods donated by producers (2 sets of jam, garden planner, spice mix) by President Jay Fowler

 

Presentation by General Manager Adam Price

Delivery Day overview

– Once a month takes 100 people over a 3 day process

– 25-30 volunteers at op center, 65-70 pickup site volunteers

 

Members Report 2016

– 39 lifetime members

– 37 annual shoppers

– 147 monthly shoppers

– 664 free trial (519 activated)

 

New Producers

– Arctic Farms (hydroponic produce, eggs)

– Sloth Acres (pasture-raised chicken)

– Tesch (pasture-raised chicken, salsa)

– Farm on Fishmarket (free-range eggs)

– producer applications have been suspended except prepared foods and chicken

 

Comments on 2016

– began 2016 with 3 paid positions, down to 1

– turns out, after a brief adjustment period and help from Board, Adam could handle all day-to-day responsibilities

– in May Adam was officially promoted from Operations Manager to General Manager

– reduced payroll has helped financial situation

– successful ‘No on 777’ campaign

 

Sales

– have been on decline for last couple of years

– under 500,000 this year

 

Operations Costs

– also down this year, partly attributed to new location in 2012

– have been able to reduce costs in tandem with the sales decline, so Coop is still financially stable

 

Other comments

– the purpose of the coop is not to make money but to provide a service so as long as it is breaking even, it is accomplishing its primary mission

– primary Coop account balance stayed basically flat for most of the year; paid off loan this year, which accounts for decline toward year-end.

– 6000 budgeted for marketing that Adam won’t necessarily use

– Adam has overestimated some costs, so even though budget is showing a 10,000 loss for 2017, we are expecting to break even

 

Looking Ahead

– Adam beginning discussion with Business Development Coordinator at OSU extension

– Adam’s strong point is not marketing and they want to help with marketing

– a request to the membership for suggestions/ideas

– exploring weekly delivery/pickup for OkC Metro area

– possibly can pick up business from Urban Agrarian closing

– give producers an extra outlet for their products

 

Questions (from members)

  1. Did we coordinate with businesses/companies for delivery sites? (referring to the business to business idea last year)

A: It didn’t work out.

 

  1. Have you gotten advice from other food coops on how they do business?

A: Adam has contacted several. All coops like ours seem to have the same questions

concerning sales, marketing, etc. Others nationwide are also seeing sales decline.

-follow- up: At farmers markets, only 1 in 10 customers have heard of the Coop.

A: There are lots of possible new members, probably lots of folks who would join but

haven’t ever heard of us.

 

Presentation by Treasurer Courtenay Olivarez

Beta Test Weekly Deliver

– weekly pickup 3 times/month

– Saturday drop off, evening pickup

– biggest complaint from consumers frequency and not enough vegetables

– producers reluctant to add to workload in the past, but large percentage of producers

interested now

– order cycle Sun – Wed

– think we can add 20,000 in sales/month

 

– obstacles

– creating infrastructure on the website, may be too confusing

– (suggestion from member) to make a separate website

– would need to update electrical systems in building

-some producers want to deliver every couple of weeks in which case we would need

new fridges/freezers

– beta test will be staffed by volunteers at no cost

 

– Actions

– research NSF coolers and freezers

– get volunteers

– marketing

– Test beginning April 1 st , 4 month duration

 

Questions from members

 

  1. Volunteering on which days?

A: Just Saturdays.

 

  1. Is this/should we limit to just produce?

A: Any product could be available. The purpose is to increase producers sales.

 

  1. Why do we have difficulty attracting organic producers and would this help

A: We don’t know.

 

  1. What percentage of sales is from the OkC metro?

A: 60%.

 

Speech by President Jay Fowler (text follows)

Howdy everyone.

I am quite excited about testing this new strategy to reinvigorate our cooperative. Dustin, Courtenay, and Adam are always willing to bring fresh ideas, maintain our high standards, and be realistic about our future as a cooperative and I’d like to thank them for their effort in this process. It’s been an honor to serve with them and our other board members over the last year.  The current board will maintain all it’s members and there will be no need for elections this year.

In the presentation Adam mentioned we need to research the needs of our infrastructure system to support a possible weekly sales cycle. In order to dive deeply into this possibility, as a board, we a discussing a series of brainstorming retreats where we will host a variety of folks who can share their knowledge and experience while challenging us to create a functional model. We would like all members to discuss these possibilities with others, share our cooperative with their family, friends, and neighbors, and help us find a way to bring this new system into place. Feedback from members and producers always help us focus on current and future directions. I would like to encourage all of you to tell us how this cooperative can serve your needs better.

I’d like to tell you a bit about my place in the sandstone hills of eastern Oklahoma county. Then I’d like to tell you a bit about my place in the Oklahoma food coop. Then finally I’d like to tell you a bit about our future together sharing this land and the food that sustain us.  My family live on 5 acres in the rolling sandstone hills of eastern Oklahoma County. There were folks who lived there before us, as with most of Oklahoma this land was given to native folks before westward expansion. There are 39 federally recognized tribes in this state. Only 3 of those tribes called this land their home. That means 36 tribes of native folks were forcibly moved here. As a white settler, my privilege means I am a beneficiary of this is the history displacement and genocide. I feel I must recognize this history by honor the memories of those who came before me. To honor these memories my family steps lightly on this ground. We step lightly by honoring the soil, water, and knowledge that sustain us. We honor the soil that sustains us by creating rich compost that feed our crops and avoiding processes that will reduce the diversity of life . We honor the water that sustains us by controlling our waste and being vigilant and standing up against threats to that water. We honor the knowledge that sustain us by asking our elders about the old ways of feeding ourselves and practicing those ways. This is how my family step lightly on this ground. It is also why we have been involved in this cooperative for so long.

This cooperative, the producers who grow and raise our food, the members who spend extra to maintain high standards, this cooperative steps lightly on this ground. Our producers honor  the soil, water, and knowledge that sustain us. Our farmers honor the soil by following standards that maintain the diversity of life on their farms. Our ranchers honor the water by pledging to treat their animals differently than confined animal feed operations. Our members honor the knowledge that sustain us buy supporting our producers and prioritizing them in the a diet of just, humane, and sustainable food.

Over the years I have been inspired by the wonderful folks who make up our cooperative. I have learned much about sharing knowledge, commitment to principles, and maintaining hope for the future.

This cooperative is only as successful when we all stand together,with the memories of our past to guide us. My family has a story. Your family has a story. These stories weave a tapestry of intentionality and integrity. Fair well in the coming year. Thank You for continuing support.

 

 

Slides from Adam Price’s General Manager Report at the Annual Meeting

 

 

Weekly Delivery Beta Test Presentation Slides — presented by Treasurer Courtenay Olivarez at Annual Meeting